Washington NFL team to use 'Washington Football Team' for 2020 season

Washington buying time before getting new team name (0:58)

Dan Graziano provides a timeline on the steps Washington will have to take in order to adopt a new name. (0:58)

Effective immediately, Washington will call itself the "Washington Football Team" pending the adoption of a new name, the NFL franchise announced Thursday.

This is not a final renaming and rebranding for the team; this is the name it will use until the adoption of a new name.

The team will continue the process of retiring its former name and hopes to be entirely rid of it on physical and digital spaces in the next 50 days, by the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Washington will not have any change to its color scheme. It will still use burgundy and gold, and its former logo on the helmet will be replaced by each player's number in gold. Washington will debut its home uniforms in Week 1 against the Eagles and its road uniforms in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals.

While Washington uses these uniforms and helmets for the 2020 season, it will be seeking the feedback of players, alumni, fans, sponsors and the community for the team name it will use in the future.

Terry Bateman, the franchise's new executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said the team wants to include fans, business partners and alumni in the process. That takes time.

"You're doing a rebranding process that correctly takes 12 to 18 months. If you want to do it right, you have to take a deep breath, take a step back and go through the process," he said. "We want to do it right. We want something thoughtful and inclusive and smart and bring a lot of points of views into this and come out the other side with something everyone is proud of and can rally behind.

"It feels organic and natural to do this. I love the look of what we've done. It's really strong. I like the logo and the uniforms and the colors. ... There's a tremendous amount of work to do for the next 50 days to do all this. It's a tremendous amount of work to go through this. The new will go up, and the old will go down."

Fans will be able to purchase Washington Football Team merchandise from Fanatics and NFL Shop in the coming days.

Asked if the team was ever close to a new name, Bateman said, "You can argue what close is. Everyone's got a different opinion. The conversations have been, 'This is great, I like this one. No, I don't like that.'

"There are a number of names people like. I probably had a thousand names submitted. I'm getting long letters why one name is the right name for us. It's funny, and it's fun. It's interesting. Everyone has an opinion. My wife has a strong opinion. My kids have an opinion. A lot have an idea, but it's much bigger than that. Even if we had the name 100% locked in, to physically get it done before the football season starts would be between hard and impossible."

Bateman said there is no end date in mind.

"The process is going to be completed whenever it's right," he said. "I don't know when that will be. Whenever we feel like we've got the best solution for the organization, for the community, for the fans, for everybody involved."

The team retired the name it had used for 87 years on July 13 after launching a thorough review 10 days earlier.

Team owner Dan Snyder had, for years, resisted changing the name; he told USA Today in 2013 to "put it in all caps" that he would never make such a move. Some who worked for Snyder said they believed then that he would rather sell the team than use a new name.

The controversy surrounding the name predated Snyder's purchase of the team in May 1999. When Washington played in Super Bowl XXVI following the 1991 season, there were 2,000 protesters outside the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Jack Kent Cooke, the team owner at the time, said of any possible change, "There is not a single, solitary jot, tittle, whit chance in the world. I like the name, and it's not a derogatory name."

But Snyder and the franchise have been under more pressure after the protests following the death of George Floyd in May while he was in police custody in Minneapolis. Within a few weeks of Floyd's death, sources said Snyder had been discussing the name change with NFL officials for several weeks already.

During this time, a letter signed by 87 investors and shareholders who hold a total worth of $620 billion was sent to sponsors FedEx, PepsiCo and Nike, asking them to stop doing business with the team unless the name changed. When that was reported by Adweek.com on July 1, multiple people -- including current and former team employees -- echoed the same thought: It's over. Most, if not all, were unaware that a possible change was in the works.

On July 2, FedEx issued a statement saying it had told the team it wanted the name changed. The other sponsors later released statements saying the same. Amazon said it would stop selling the team's merchandise. Walmart and Target said they would stop selling the gear in stores. And, according to The Washington Post, FedEx said it would remove its signage from the stadium if the name was not changed by the 2021 season.

FedEx signed a 27-year naming rights deal for $205 million in 1998. The company's owner and CEO, Fred Smith, has been a minority shareholder in the Washington franchise since 2003. However, according to multiple reports, he and the other minority investors, Dwight Schar and Bob Rothman, want to sell their stakes.

Snyder, his sister and his mother own 60% of the franchise.

ESPN's John Keim contributed to this report.